LAS VEGAS, Nevada, February 8, 2013 (ENS) – The biodiesel industry “is helping create “a new dynamic in America,” U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told a packed audience at the 20th anniversary National Biodiesel Board Conference & Expo Thursday in Las Vegas.

“The biodiesel industry is making us a more secure country, and the most exciting piece is that it’s not just limited to fuel and energy,” Vilsack said in his keynote address that closed the four-day event at the Mirage Hotel Conference Center.

Tom Vilsack

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack (Photo by Chuck Leung courtesy USDA)

“Because of how innovative you are,” he said, “with new technology and techniques you’ve given birth to a biobased economy, and with that the possibility of a new American economy.”

Biodiesel is an advanced biofuel made from sustainable resources such as soybean oil, recycled cooking oil and other fats and oils. It has outgrown its backyard roots to become the first and only U.S. EPA-designated Advanced Biofuel produced on a commercial scale across the country.

“You have the power to make us more energy secure, and still create enough food and fiber for the world. That’s an amazing opportunity worth fighting for,” Vilsack told the biodiesel conference.

“You also have the ability to respond as a generation to climate change,” said the secretary. “You’ve got to keep up the fight because the stakes are extraordinarily high.”

Biodiesel has taken the lead as the first commercially available advanced biofuel on the market.

With the U.S. biodiesel industry producing more than a billion gallons of fuel in each of the past two years, biodiesel is seeking a bigger share of the diesel market. The industry is already boosting income for farming families across the country.

“We’ve had record farm income in large part because of this industry,” Vilsack said. “It’s helping to promote job growth, it provides greater consumer choice, and reduces our dependence on foreign oil.”

The agriculture secretary said U.S. dependence on foreign oil is less than 50 percent and dropping, “in large part because of the advancements this industry has made.

biodiesel pump

Fueling station in Atlanta, Georgia sells both B20, a 20% biodiesel blend, and B100, pure biodiesel. (Photo by East Tennessee Clean Fuels)

In turn, the National Biodiesel Board praised Secretary Vilsack as one of the strongest advocates for renewable fuels in the nation, and presented him with its National Energy Leadership Award.

“I’ve witnessed the beginning of a rural renaissance that is remarkable, and you, sir, have presided over it,” said Joe Jobe, CEO of the National Biodiesel Board.

“You went to bat for us in the successful expansion of the RFS [Renewable Fuel Standard], and for an issue like ours to go all the way to the top is extraordinary,” Jobe said. “We can’t thank you enough for your leadership.”

Jobe is convinced the only way to protect fuel consumers and the US economy is diversify the U.S. transportation fuel supply – ethanol, propane, natural gas, and electric vehicles – and most important to him, of course, biodiesel.

“We are in the midst of a domestic oil boom,” Jobe said. “And that’s good for American jobs and our trade balance. But isn’t it interesting that all that increased domestic supply of petroleum, hasn’t significantly eased fuel prices to the consumer, especially on the diesel fuel side, which moves the freight that drives the economy.”

“That is because petroleum is not a regional commodity with regional pricing relationships. Petroleum prices are set globally by political factors in the most politically unstable region in the world and by nationalized oil companies of totalitarian regimes,” Jobe said. “This is primae facia evidence that simply drilling more domestic petroleum is not our answer for energy independence.”

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